South Warwickshire man's lockdown discovery about his father's war history - including his involvement in the Great Escape
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Recently, Alistair Price from Henley in Arden came to speak to the Warwick Rotary Club about his findings.
During lockdown in 2019 Alistair dug through some boxes left by his father Kenneth.
He found information which revealed a previously unknown history and led to him writing about his father’s experiences, including his involvement in the Great Escape from Stalag Luft 111.
The Rotarians at the Warwick Rotary Club event were, like Alistair, of an age where their fathers had served in the war, but not talked about it, unlike students today for whom it is history and taught at school.
Alistair’s father, Kenneth, a Coventry lad, enlisted in the RAF in 1938 aged 20 and trained at Ansty near Coventry as a navigator.
From 1940 he was in Bomber Command and flew an amazing 58 trips before being shot down in July 1943. He was in Pathfinders who laid flares on the target prior to the main bombing mission and was very lucky to survive as the life expectancy of bomber crew was five trips.
Kenneth was rescued by Dutch resistance but betrayed to the Gestapo and sent to prison camp in Poland at Stalag Luft 111 for nearly two years.
During his lockdown searching, Alistair found a complete set of his father’s correspondence home, including the official telegrams to his parents, as well as photos with his fellow prisoners, and copies of camp newsletters, which brought home to him the privations of war throughout the cold winters.
Alistair also discovered that his father had also assisted with the ‘Great Escape’ as a ‘penguin’ dispersing the sand around camp and was number 182 on the escape list through the tunnel – Harry, which was aborted when escapee no 77 was spotted and shot at by a guard.
Of the 76 escapees only three managed to return home, the others were rounded up and 50 executed, with just 23 returning to Camp.
After his time in the Camp, Kenneth returned home in 1945, married, and worked at the Civil Aviation Authority in London until he retired in 1978 on health grounds.
He died quite young in 1980 due to a great extent to the privations of being a Prisoner of War.
He was able to visit a Lancaster bomber at Hendon Air Museum in March 1980, in which he had flown in July 1943.
From all the information Alistair discovered, he created a book called Kenneth George Price, DFC and Bar, which is on sale via Amazon.
At the end of Alistairs presentation to the club, Warwick Rotary President Keith Talbot presented Alistair with a donation from the club for the RAF Benevolent Fund.